Why is there no in between sane and not sane?

My recent (brief) mental ward stay sparked this convo which sparked my friend’s essay on mental health care and stigmas. Since I wasn’t suicidal, there was no place for crying little girls. Or, as my therapist said, “You don’t have to be suicidal to be psychotic!”

Why is there no in between sane and not sane?.


So I’m Helpful for a little While

there was a bit of a smackdown over who was going to handle a fundraiser: me, or an accountant acquaintance.

the deal is, a friend of ours got breast cancer, and having a double mastectomy didn’t get it all. she made the saddest thing ever: Jen’s Chemo Wishlist, and Jen’s Chemo Wishlist for Fun on Amazon. the first is obvs the serious one, the perversely described “Chemo for Fun” had things like baking accessories for her Kitchenaid mixer, books, a CD.

Cy, a friend of all ours, organized a group of people who could be in touch and help her out by making donations and have the donation coordinator buy things off her lists. after all the money was in, a donation to her to help cover expenses with what was left would be made to her.

so the smackdown, as it were, to help Jen was whose PayPal account would we use to centralize all this and whose Amazon account had Prime shipping to get it all to her cheaply? i had both so had been offering from the beginning, saying that unemployment gave me time. the accountant popped up and argued “hellooooo i’m an accountant!”

in this Save Jen group, my name popped up first, so instantly money came pouring in. the accountant seemed disappointed. you know, i’m just gonna say it, this accountant loves being the center of attention. i took a jab at her. after i ‘won’ the ‘competition’ (snort), i asked her, “have you talked to Jen lately, is there anything else she wants?” accountant admitted she doesn’t really talk to Jen, so no, she didn’t know. neener, i knew things she wanted but forgot to put on the list! so, yeah, i think i ‘won.’

but after getting that petty poison out, the point is this: i feel useful. unemployment is a literally disenfranchising thing, and it’s left me feeling sort of anchorless. sure i have tons of things to do for my medical health–the whole point of quitting my job–but it’s not like i’m doing anything that serves a direct purpose i’m accountable to someone else for.

Jen’s Chemo Wish has given me determination. i am actually doing something that improves the life of someone else. i’m so happy to check my email and my PayPal and my Amazon to see what’s going on. so far we’ve gotten enough donations to fill all her Amazon dreams and more. we’re going to help her with her yoga studio fees.

i really hope Jen is the last of my friends to get cancer for a long, long time, and i really hope the chemo knocks her cancer out, but, in the meantime, i’m so glad i have a purpose. thanks for letting me be your friend, Jen.

Borrow It Forward

you’ve no doubt heard of “pay it forward”? i love it, i practice it whenever, even silly things like holding the door open and smiling for a stranger.

but imagine the energy it takes a person with chronic illness to do something like that over and over during a day. ok, so i stood an extra time holding the door, there’s a little energy outta my bucket. stayed on the phone longer than necessary to hear someone’s problems, little more zap outta my zing. convincing my spastic service dog to SIT GODAMMIT over and over when people would like to pet her, that is A LOT of energy ladled out of my bucket of self.

you get it, i like to pay it forward, even if it means that little things exhaust me and i come home sacked, drained of just everything. i used to turn movies on and pretend to watch them–i don’t even bother anymore.

now, let’s see this: if there’s something i want to do for me today, i “borrow it forward” by taking tomorrow’s energy. does that make any sense? it’s like getting a cash advance on what your body creates overnight. so in the back of your head you realize you’re getting screwed because then you won’t have that cash/energy later, but you have that cash/energy today. borrowing it forward.

last night was a good example. a close friend had an art opening in her young gallery, Rock Art Studio. i like to go out and support her, enjoy the artwork, and actually socialize with other human beings. however, to enjoy last night’s show, i had to borrow from today.

i’m nodding off as i write, and just then i flat-out fell asleep til Facespace beeped me.

i borrowed it all out today. miserable. nodded off there. typing with only one eye open. where’s my reading glasses.

you get the point. borrowing it forward costs tomorrow the joy it brings today. i don’t really regret it, but it sure sucks like hell.

Normal Dragon

My BFF Erin wrote about finding “The New Normal” after becoming Chronically Ill. I cried as I empathized in so many ways, but instead of wallowing, I decided she would inspire me to write about my own New Normal.

the realization that i was never going to be the “Real Me” i conceptually idealized as what i was really like actually happened just a couple of months ago. my family doesn’t see me often due to distance, but i make sure to maintain a healthy phone and written contact with them. one day, on the phone, my father said, “You always sound so drugged, at this last Christmas you were practically a zombie you were so drugged. I don’t know, maybe this is the New Christine we have to get used to.”

my heart went static like an old UHF TV screen buzzed. we used to call it a “bee race,” “My bee is winning!” all my bees stopped and looked at each other: “are we drugged out now?”

i’ve been some version of chronically ill since 2002, but i always thought rehab would get me back to using my mouse with my right hand… ok, to hiking… hmm, to standing? how about just sitting, ok? let’s freakin sit, in a chair, designed for long-term ergonomic comfort fancier than all the thrones my boss bought the other staff. how about WEAR SHOES! SHOES. on my FEET. WEARING.

Chronic Pain is laughable it’s so ridiculous. i… i don’t know if i can describe? telling you all the modified versions of Christines won’t do the point, and hell, i can’t even remember all the Christines i’ve lost so many! i’m like a paper doll, but instead of getting dressed, layers and layers of Victorian doll drawings of dresses are being removed from me. the shoes. the skirt. the blouse. the pantaloons. the stockings. and finally, the corset that was holding it all together. now i stand holding a parasol and faking a paper smile, disappearing in a weak breeze.

then, it all begins again. grieving Christine is a constant process, not just with each layer of paper doll clothes, but just random. some days “i have to take the elevator,” is just i can’t take stairs. other days it’s “god, i fail at STAIRS. CHILDREN take stairs with aplomb!” some days it’s “hahahah! i forgot my pain meds and the lights look like they’re blinking!” other days: “holy shit it is NOT. OK. for lights to blink!”

here’s a thought: dealing with Chronic Pain is as complicated as rolling a handful of a 32-sided die, a pyramid die, and sundry other 12- and 16- sided dice from Dungeons & Dragons and trying to interpret the Elf Damage or something. the taste of the candy red #32, the prescience of the pale blue pyramid, a green 16 like mint jelly–variables upon variables, flavors, delights, enticements, failures… confusion. ultimately, confusion.

so basically every day is my first day playing Dungeons and Dragons to determine my shield and sword strength and powers of magic potions. some are weak as sprinkling dirt on my head, and others are wode and ululations–who knows which day’s Normal is? at least i have no clue; maybe i seem transparent to the people who call me druggie–i think that’s a roll of the pink 13 sided die.

PS, to read Erin’s post on Normal and check out her blog, head here.

archivally safe label adhesive

today, right now, i love me because of something a friend wrote and a commenter said. my friend wrote that she was always questioning seeing the world beyond the labels she was taught. a commenter wrote their own blog post in the responses that as an expert she declared my friend a label perpetuater. and i felt validated: i label. happily. gladly.

i think i was born to archive because i love labeling. americans (label) love labels (label), and highly identify with their jobs (labellabellabel!!!).

i was actually taught not to identify with the american dream of the label of job, but i’ve actually learned to embrace my job label. i seriously love being an archivist, and i wear it proudly like a badge, like that one time i was on a committee with my friend Koichi (japanese immigrant, archivist, really great guy) who basically steered for us both (proactive, Type A).

the weird catch is that i loved being an archivist before i was one professionally (graduate student worker), took a mental break from loving it (harsh reality), and now love it again that it’s threatened (disabled).

double threat: i’m so disabled i have a hard time working the number of hours my boss expects–and, well, i’m contracted for (supervisor)–and i’m so disabled i have the threat that really i can’t keep up with the damn job (sad).

(are the labels getting boring? [concerned, sensitive, paranoid])

so, i love these labels: i embrace these labels. weirdo, wife, alternative mother, archivist, and, the dreaded, DISABLED.

much love friends, lovers, enemies,

PS: you know what label i do hate? “Grammar Nazi.” i prefer “Grammrrr Grrrl.”